Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Random plant events: Hatiora and Schlumbergera

Oh hi. Apologies for the three-day gap in posting.

Imidacloprid II: The Imidaclopridatening1 has finally ended, so all that's left to do is sit around with my fingers crossed until I find out whether or not it's worked. I'm finding scale less often now, which might be a good sign. It also might just be a sign that all the really badly-infested plants were thrown away, and the ones left are only slightly infested. Time will tell.

In other news, Sheba and I are both extremely itchy lately. Losing-sleep kind of itchy. Biting-bald-spots-into-the-whole-inside-of-your-leg itchy.2 I have no idea why: there are no bumps or rashes or anything, we haven't changed laundry detergents, etc. The main environmental change is probably the addition of all the imidacloprid, but that really should be staying confined to the pots, and in any case I'm not pouring it down my legs, which is where I'm having the worst problems.

Besides imidacloprid, the other theories include: mold, weather, the house heating system, karma and/or divine retribution, allergies, excessive washing, inadequate washing, witches, and bunnies.3 This has always been going on to some degree or another -- I first blogged about Sheba getting hot spots a year and a half ago, and I first noticed that I was feeling itchy frequently last July. But it's so much worse right now, for both of us, that I'm thinking surely this can't be a coincidence.

Of course, thinking about it also sometimes sets it off, so I should move on to another topic quickly. Maybe plants?

The plants are still doing things, and I'm still taking pictures, though it's been hard to get very good pictures lately -- too cold and/or rainy to go outside for good light, too dark to get good pictures inside. So I apologize for the quality, but:

My NOID orange (but sometimes not-orange) "Easter cactus" has bloomed again. This isn't supposed to happen when it's not Easter, as far as I know, but perhaps it's been confused by the temperature in the plant room -- we were late setting up the heater, so it's been cold in there. Some plants like this more than others. Historically speaking, the flowers are red when they first open, then gradually turn more orange. Not sure what happened this year that we're starting out with orange at the beginning. Maybe that's temperature-related?

In any case, the buds were initially kind of a light pink, then magenta --

-- and opened up orange, with no red stage this year at all. I guess Hatiora likes to keep a person guessing. Or at least this Hatiora likes to keep this person guessing. Perhaps the appropriate "person" for Hatiora's eventual plant profile should be M. Night Shyamalan.4

The plant is approximately the same size now as it was in February. Maybe a little bigger. It's not that it hasn't grown quite a bit in that stretch of time; it just drops pieces whenever I'm not watering perfectly, and sometimes when I am watering perfectly, so the net growth is basically zero. There remains a strong argument for Patsy Cline as the profile "person."

Meanwhile, and more predictably, the Schlumbergeras are in full swing at the moment as well. 'Caribbean Dancer' (above) is the main bloomer, but that's to be expected, since it's the largest and oldest of my plants. I also have a salmon/peach variety, which is just barely visible in this photo (slightly to the right of center, under a couple layers of 'Caribbean Dancer' blooms), which is having its biggest year to date, a magenta one (not pictured) that's got some buds but no actual flowers yet, and a white one (also not pictured) with plenty of buds that are only just now beginning to open. The previously-reported bud on seedling number 25 aborted shortly after I took that picture, I guess because I wasn't feeling bad enough about the plant collection. If I can figure out a way to move the seedlings into the plant room by February or so, I might start seeing buds on the seedlings that actually open. And boy will that be a crazy day.

Just to end on a bit of a tease, other random plant events coming up this week:5 Phragmipedium, Anthurium, Leuchtenbergia, Billbergia, Strelitzia, and some unidentified trees in downtown Iowa City.


1 (1. dumping imidacloprid into the pot of every plant in the house. 2. Well it's a word now. Deal with it.)
2 (more Sheba than me on the bald spots. Though if I could reach . . . . In any case, I'm pretty sure we're both having trouble getting to sleep, and then waking up early, because of itching.)
3 Some of those are jokes. Which ones are jokes is left as an exercise for the reader.
4 Pro tip: you do not want to get me started about M. Night Shyamalan.
5 (where "this week" = a vaguely-defined period of time which includes not only this week but also the following week, a solid chunk of December, and never, and where "random plant events" means random plant events, stupid plant tricks, and possibly graffiti)


Ivynettle said...

I lost my patience with my Hatioras earlier this year and threw them all out. Too much work for too few flowers.
I'm still having a weird year and didn't even move the Schlumbergeras to a room where I would actually see the flowers (they're all in the bedroom, where I don't even turn on the light most days.)

Ed Kramer said...

About scale. I'm constantly batteling them on my phaleanopses(sp?) I use insectacidal soap and dislodge
the adults so it gets under them where it can do its job - immatures just die(I also just squash them). I have also immersed small enough plants of various kinds in a gallon of Ortho Systemic Insect Killer (formally Isotox) solution and insectacidal soap. This smells bad in the house but works - at least for a while.

mr_subjunctive said...

Ed Kramer:

A bit of googling showed me that Ortho's product is also a neonicotinoid insecticide, just not the same one -- acetamiprid instead of imidacloprid. I'd think any insect that was able to withstand one is probably able to withstand the other, so that probably doesn't help me.

As for insecticidal soap, I've used it at home before for spider mites, but not so much for scale/mealybugs. Partly, that's because I wasn't impressed with it at work -- it took a lot to cover any of the plants,[1] and it never actually made the bugs go away. At best, it maybe annoyed them for a few minutes.


[1] Rubbing alcohol has that problem too, unfortunately. I know I've covered all the leaves when I can no longer breathe (and/or I catch on fire).